Value stream mapping (VSM) is a Lean manufacturing technique designed to help teams understand the flow of materials and information in a process from end to end. The outcome of the mapping exercise is to improve the process by identifying when and where process inefficiencies limit the flow and create waste (time and materials) and execute plans to eliminate them. The value of this exercise is that you can use VSM on a number of different processes in your organization, not just on the manufacturing floor.


Mapping Overview
The mapping exercise has distinct phases. The first phase is to map the current state documenting both the tasks and flow of the information and/or materials from start to finish. Documenting the flow is important because you want to understand if there are wait or idle times in the process. The next step is to create the ideal or future state, representing the best the process could possibly be. Finally, the team creates and executes a plan that implements this new ideal state. The action plan may take multiple phases to fully implement.


Things to remember:

--The current state should be the process that is happening today, not what is thought to be happening.

--VSM is a team exercise that includes people from every department that play a role in executing the process.

--Document the tasks and the flow of information. You can use data from the existing process to create a timeline as part of the map.


Getting Started

VSM starts with selecting a process to map. The process you choose should be valuable to the company. As an example, the process could be important for growth, improving quality or on-time delivery rates, or reducing lead times. For your first VSM choose a process where there is a high probability for success. Don’t try to tackle the most difficult or complicated process first, you may never make it through the entire mapping project.


Tips to get started:

--Hire a third-party expert to facilitate your first VSM. RevAZ has a team of experts who can help.

--Choose a process with strategic importance, but one that is not overly complicated.

--The first VSM project can serve as a learning process and a blueprint to execute future VSM projects.

--Collect data needed to calculate the time it takes from start to finish (examples of data needed: cycle time, up-time for machinery, number of operators, shifts, pack size, batch size, etc.).

Add VSM to Your Toolbox
VSM is a valuable tool that can be useful on existing processes and when you are beginning to plan a new process. It helps the entire team see how their roles contribute to the overall process. As part of your organization’s commitment to continuous improvement, VSM helps your organization remove obstacles and waste to run more efficiently and effectively.


RevAZ's mission is to make every Arizona manufacturer the most successful business it can be. From customized operational and business solutions, concrete advice to training and hands on assistance, RevAZ's expert team is here to help you achieve your business goals in the most cost effective manner possible. 


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